In the absence of current undisputed UFC middleweight champion, Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya as he pursues light heavyweight spoils against Jan Blachowicz — April proves to be a month for top-five contenders to establish themselves as incoming title challengers for his division return.
Confirmed yesterday evening, a headlining tilt between former champion, Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker and recent title challenger, Paulo ‘The Eraser’ Costa has been set for an April 17th. UFC Fight Night event.
Now, a week prior on the weekend of April 17th. — former welterweight title chaser, Darren ‘The Gorilla’ Till is slated to make his return to active competition for the first time since July last as he draws the number-five ranked force, Marvin ‘The Italian Dream’ Vettori in a five-round main event slot. ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto was first to report the news of the exciting main event tangle.
Ruled from a UFC Vegas 16 headliner against grappling ace, Jack ‘The Joker’ Hermansson, Liverpool striker Till was forced to withdraw from the clash against the former Cage Warriors titleholder in the weeks prior due to a niggling knee injury which he had first suffered in his July loss to the aforenoted, Whittaker.
Replacing Till in the main event against Hermansson, Kings MMA mainstay, Vettori had replaced original short-notice spot filler, Kevin ‘The Trailblazer’ Holland who was ruled from proceedings after he returned a positive COVID-19 test result. Vettori went on to score his fourth consecutive triumph via an entertaining unanimous decision win.
Sitting at 1-1 at 185-pounds since his move from welterweight back in late 2019, Team Kaobon staple, Till snapped a two-fight slide in his divisional bow, besting one-time interim title challenger, another Rafael Cordeiro product, Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden in a split judging win.
Headlining UFC Fight Island 3 in July against former gold holder, Whittaker, Till slumped to three defeats in his last four Octagon outings in a close unanimous decision defeat. The 28-year-old fan favourite has scored other career wins over multiple time 170-pound title chaser, ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and future Hall of Fame feature, ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
In a breakout performance for 27-year-old Trento native, Vettori, the Kings MMA trainee established a four-fight rise and secured the number-five rank at 185-pounds via his judging victory over Hermansson. The triumph followed a prior submission win over Karl Roberson and a pair of decision successes against both Andrew Sanchez and Cezar Ferreira.